You’ve probably seen the labels (and higher price tags) at your local grocery store. Grass-fed beef is certainly growing in popularity, but what does this claim mean? And is it better than conventional meat?
The definition of “grass-fed” beef is pretty simple: cattle that are pasture-raised or fed a grass diet. Rather than being fed a typical diet of corn and cheap grains, these cows are free to naturally graze on grass and hay.
What makes grass-fed beef better than factory-farmed and grain-fed meat?
- Nutritional content: Grass-fed beef is typically lower in saturated fat than grain-fed beef and may contain higher levels of beneficial omega-3 essential fatty acids.
- Pesticides/GMOs: Grains are cheap and plentiful, making them an attractive option for beef farmers to use in cattle feed. Unfortunately, most grains fed to beef cattle are genetically modified, or sprayed heavily with pesticides, or both. These pesticides can then make their way into the animal’s meat and contaminate the environment through the animal’s waste.
- Hormones/Antibiotics: To ensure cattle grow as fast as possible, many are injected with growth hormones and given a steady stream of antibiotics to fend off disease.
- Living conditions: Grass-fed cattle that are raised in open pastures are usually left to roam and graze at their own pace. In contrast, grain-fed cattle are typically packed into small spaces and subjected to less-than-humane conditions, which can cause stress and disease.
When you’re shopping for meat, look for humanely-raised, organic, grass-fed beef to get the highest-quality meat that’s raised without the use of pesticides, hormones and antibiotics.